Intellectual Themes Initiative Projects Selected in Second Round

CEU has awarded funding to five projects in the second round of the University-wide Intellectual Themes Initiative (ITI). This new institutional endeavor at CEU, launched in fall 2015, aims to promote exploring and developing new activities that encourage cross-disciplinary teaching and research, prompt new forms of civic engagement, enhance the academic profile of CEU and contribute to shaping its future institutional direction. The four themes are: Energy, Social Mind, Inequalities of Social Justice, and Governance. 

In this round, the ITI selection committee received project proposals covering all four themes of the initiative and involving over 90 CEU faculty, students and staff. The Intellectual Themes Initiative will continue in the next academic year and the next deadline for applications will be in early November 2016.

The successful projects are presented below.

Energy Theme

Project title: Energy Security: Geopolitics, Markets and Society (EM-GMS)

Applicants: Nikolai Sitter, School of Public Policy, Andreas Goldthau, School of Public Policy, Matteo Fumagalli, Department of International Relations

Objectives of the project:
The ES-GSM project is primarily designed to leverage existing and ongoing research, rather than to commission new research. The concurrent operation of several international projects on topics related to the security dimension of energy has allowed CEU to ‘punch above its weight’ in this part of the energy studies field. In order to keep this going, and develop it further, it is necessary to devote some resources to maintaining and strengthening CEU’s role in this informal network. This project will support events that facilitate collaboration between researchers at CEU and our international partners, as well as the dissemination of research results through high-impact outlets.

The envisaged outcome of this research collaboration and knowledge dissemination is a contribution to the policy debates about the three key themes identified in this project:

  • What are the ‘hard’ security implications of the new geopolitics of energy, and how can these best be addressed in a way that mitigates the military security and security-of supply risks?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of using regulatory tools (as opposed to military power or ‘hard’ economic power such as sanctions) to address security of supply issues, particularly related to the gas sector?
  • What are the societal risks associated with the new geopolitics of energy, and particularly the use of revenue from fossil fuels and energy infrastructure projects to sustain illiberal regimes, and how can these best be addressed?

Social Mind Theme

Project title: CRS PhD Seminar Reason, Unreason and Nature in Religion

Applicants: Aziz Al-Azmeh, Center for Religious Studies; Department of History, Hanoch Ben-Yami, Department of Philosophy, Jean-Louis Fabiani, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Vlad Naumescu, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dan Sperber, Department of Cognitive Science

Objectives of the project:
This university-wide project is designed as a collaborative effort and aims, among other things, to bring together various units of the university in meaningful ways. CRS Advanced Certificate in Religious Studies Program, together with the Departments of Philosophy, Cognitive Science and Sociology and Anthropology will offer a doctoral seminar on ‘Reason and Unreason in Religion’ during the academic year 2016-17. This will be a cross-disciplinary and university-wide enterprise that will promote innovative work and fresh thinking beyond disciplinary boundaries, and tap into such attempts outside of CEU as well. The seminar will rely on external speakers in a major way. Such speakers, chosen for working at the frontiers of knowledge, will be invited to present their work in progress, and will supplement the capacities of CEU beyond the boundaries imposed by size and infrastructure.

Project title: Beliefs fostering dishonest behavior: Combining ethnographic and experimental evidence

Applicants: Christophe Heintz, Department of Cognitive Science, Anand Murugesan, School of Public Policy, Davide Torsello, Center for Integrity in Business and Government; Business School, Mia Karabegovic, Department of Cognitive Science, Victoria Fomina, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology

Objective of the project:
We will investigate the factors that determine people's attitudes toward social rules aimed at improving societal welfare. Dishonesty can be characterized as failing to respect these rules, and adhering to them can be necessary for stable cooperation and resolving collective action problems. However, against this first operational characterization, ethnographic and experimental data suggest that depending on the context, people may break a rule and still think of themselves as honest. Context systematically influence people’s attitude towards rules.
The project’s focus is on the cultural beliefs that determine negative attitudes towards the rules meant to increase societal welfare. What are these beliefs and how do they spread?

The project will employ a multi-disciplinary methodology, bringing together scientists from the School of Public Policy, the Business School, and the Departments of Cognitive Science and Sociology and Social Anthropology. We will gather empirical data from a set of behavioral experiments on dishonesty, and from ethnographic field work, interviews and simulation games in organizations. Additionally, these methods will be combined by using the ethnographic data to design experimental protocols for cross-cultural implementation.  Our research will contribute to a better understanding of the type of beliefs that prompt negative attitudes towards social rules. We will make our findings directly relevant to policymakers and company leaders who seek to decrease the rate of dishonest behavior in their environments.

Inequalities of Social Justice Theme

Project title: Gendered Creative Teams and Unequal Recognition (Gendered Creative Teams)

Applicants: Jeremy Braverman, Media Lab, Eva Fodor, Department of Gender Studies, Dorit Geva, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Maria Kronfeldner, Department of Philosophy, Daniel Monterescu, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Hadley Rankin, Department of Gender Studies, Roberta Sinatra, Center for Network Science; Department of Mathematics and Its Applications, Balazs Vedres, Center for Network Science; Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology

Objectives of the project:

Teams are becoming dominant in creative fields, and gender diversity was shown to increase collective intelligence and creativity. Yet there is a gender gap in the recognition of contributions from women, in involvement, promotion, recognition, and pay. We will use large datasets with hundreds of thousands of teams in science, programming, video game development, and music to trace the involvement of women, their career path, and recognition. We will conduct qualitative case studies to identify forms of resistance, alternative, more equitable organizational principles. We will reach out to invite diverse creative teams in a visual project competition to experiment with alternative principles of team organization and individual recognition. Our goal is to produce a unique edited volume in the end that building on the unique strengths of CEU in the area will advance a more equitable and productive approach to gender in creative teams.

Project title: CEU Open Learning Initiative II (OLIve II)

Applicants: Prem Kumar Rajaram, Department of Sociology and Social AnthropologyDavid RidoutCenter for Academic Writing, Vlad Naumescu, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Viola Zentai, Center for Policy Studies, Agnes Toth, Center for Academic Writing, Pinar Donmez, Center for Policy Studies, Ewa Maczynksa, Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations, Zsuzsanna Gabor, Academic Cooperation and Research Office, Cristina Balint-Nagy, CEU Careers Office, Cristina Bangau, Roma Access Programs, Simona Gamonte, Human Rights Initiative, plus other staff at CEU and members of Migszol, Migrant Solidarity Group, Hungary.

Objectives of the project:

OLIve is a civic engagement project that strengthens CEU’s involvement in the wider community and fosters the university’s goal of promoting open society by facilitating education for some of the most marginalised while removing barriers between CEU and the wider community. CEU Open Learning Initiative (OLIve) will offer weekend courses to refugees and asylum seekers in Hungary. In January 2016, the first OLIve proposal was awarded funding by the Intellectual Themes Initiative and was able to start with an initial cohort of 43 students. The project is now six weeks into its first term of teaching and a new term will begin on April 9.  The new ITI grant will be used to fund OLIve for the Fall and Winter terms 2016/17 and will build on lessons learnt following the first phase of the project.

The Intellectual Themes Initiative (ITI) Selection Committee, chaired by Professor Helga Nowotny, former president of the European Research Council, and comprising of four CEU faculty members, CEU’s President and Rector John Shattuck and Provost and Pro-Rector Liviu Matei, evaluated all the proposals according to the criteria indicated in the ITI call.